Buddhists throughout Thailand will be marking the end of the period of Buddhist Lent in two days time with a trip to their local temple. Wan Awk Phansa (or Wan Och Phansa) is the final day of the Vassa Buddhist Lent period which began three months ago with Wan Khao Phansa.
Thais go to their temples to listen to monks giving sermons and to offer donations which typically include sweets, snacks and a few of the basic necessities monks need in their daily lives. In olden times, the coming of Wan Awk Phansa meant Buddhists could take up habits such as eating meat and drinking alcohol again and this was a reason to celebrate.
Only older people tend to abstain during Vassa Lent nowadays. Nevertheless, a peek inside a temple in Chiang Mai, or anywhere else in Thailand, gives glimpses of time-honoured traditions. The 5 October is full-moon day. In the olden Thai calendar, this cycle of the moon marks the 11th month.
From a practical point of view, Wan Awk Phansa will not make much difference to most tourists. It is not one of the numerous national public holidays on Thailand’s annual calendar. Most banks, post offices, immigration offices and venues for entertainment and dining will be open as normal. A few bars and clubs may either close or refrain from selling alcohol. Music will likely be toned down in the bars that do open.